Australia choke New Zealand
Australia A 9 for 160 (Haddin 52, Hodge 40, Yovich 4-36) beat New Zealand A 144 (Orchard 53, Dorey 3-25, Watson 3-30, Cullen 3-23) by 16 runs
Riding on a quickfire fifty from Brad Haddin and the bowling trio of Brett Dorey, Shane Watson and Dan Cullen - three senior side hopefuls - Australia A handed New Zealand A its second defeat of the day at Darwin. Shortly after going down to Pakistan A, the tourists slumped to a 16-run loss despite turning in a worthy display with the ball.
Having won the toss, Australia chose to bat and ran into early trouble. Chris Martin, the fast bowler with considerable international experience, dismissed Mark Cosgrove and Watson, while Joseph Yovich accounted for Phil Jaques. Staring at a potential disaster, Haddin and Brad Hodge combined for a 70-run stand for the fourth wicket, one that made the difference in the end. Haddin smashed 52 from 34 deliveries and Hodge 40 from 29, and the duo looked good for more before Jeetan Patel, the offspinner, and Yovich returned to rein the hosts in. Patel had Hodge and Chris Rogers beaten in flight and Yovich's medium pace put the skids on a late-order attack as Australia were restricted to 160.
By Twenty20 standards, this was a total that should have been overhauled with ease, but New Zealand failed to seal the deal. It was killer execution from Australia: Dorey dealt three early blows with the new ball, Watson struck when it mattered most, and Cullen stymied the long-handle attempts of the tail. Though they began very slowly, New Zealand's hopes were raised with a superb 85-run stand for the fifth wicket between Rob Nicol (39) and Mark Orchard (53 from 28). As the run rate veered towards the gettable, Watson and Cullen effected a dramatic landslide that left New Zealand gasping. Ultimately, it was Australia's nerve with the ball that proved too hot to handle.